Jeopardy James

The run is over.

Jim Rome
June 04, 2019 - 11:51 am
Jeopardy James

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The category is Pop Culture Phenoms and here is your clue, ladies and gentlemen. 

This legend from Las Vegas ended a streak of 32 Jeopardy! Games in a row last night and walked off the set in Culver City with $2,464,000 in winnings.

You have 10 seconds, Clones. Good luck.

The answer? Who is James Holzhauer—a.k.a. Jeopardy James. Arguably the biggest pop culture phenomenon of 2019 so far. Which is truly incredible because Jeopardy! Isn’t exactly a show known for creating pop culture phenoms. It’s more of a—kick your feet up and take your teeth out kind of program.

But Jeopardy James cut through all the usual target demos of a pre-taped trivia show. And that’s because he was an unrelenting woodchipper who embarrassed his opponents on a nightly basis and stacked cash from the floor to the ceiling in record time while doing so.

And when he burst onto the scene 33 shows ago—he brought a professional sports gambling acumen with him. And he literally flipped the game upside down by working from the bottom of the board and taking on the most lucrative and challenging clues first—while finding the majority of the Daily Doubles and risking huge amounts of money when he did. 

It’s one thing to find the Daily Doubles and have the stones to bet tens of thousands of dollars when you do. It’s another thing to know the answers almost every time. Which he did. It’s not like Jeopardy James was squeaking out victories, either. Dude had almost every game in the bag before the first commercial break. You know how demoralizing it must have been for those other two victims every night to know they lost before Trebek even had the chance to wander over to their podium to lob them some mundane question no one cares about during the interview segment of the show?

Here’s the sickest stat from the incredible run that ended last night. Of the 32 games that James Holzhauer won—16 of them became the top-16 single day scores of all-time. Meaning that if you look at the list of most money won on a single Jeopardy! Show ever—exactly half of Holzhauer's totals make up the top-16 spots.

But here’s the kick in the junk. Even though Holzhauer won 2,464,216 dollars—he came up just 56,000 dollars short of the all-time mark set by Ken Jennings.

Most people viewed the all-time money mark as a formality that Holzhauer would easily eclipse because he was stacking nearly double the amount of cash in each game that Jennings was back in the day. And it took Jennings 74 shows to get to 2.5 million—while it took Holzhauer just 32 to get to 2.45.

But after losing last night—Jennings retains his all-time streak and his all-time money record. And considering it took 15 years for anyone to get remotely close to his money record and less than halfway to his consecutive games streak—it’s beyond safe to say that no one is ever going to knock Jennings off of either of those thrones.

The strangest part of last night wasn’t that Holzhauer lost. The strangest part was having it spoiled in the early hours of Monday morning. And it wasn’t someone on staff leaking the video of the pre-recorded episode. The information came out because Jeopardy! Actually airs at 9:30 in the morning in some parts of the country.

The hell is that?! What kind of market is airing trivia at 9:30 in the morning? Morning game show time slots are reserved Showcase Showdowns and spins of an oversized giant wheel! And warnings about getting your pets spade and neutered.

But combine social media and national interest and different airtimes for Jeopardy! Nationwide—and you had an entire country knowing that Goliath went down to David well before actually seeing it happen.

Holzhauer may have come up short of the all-time money record by less than 2% of his grand total—but his legacy will be turning a prerecorded game show with a target demo of 65-year-olds into appointment television for all ages.

And more than that—he got me to do my first take on Jeopardy!Ever where I wasn’t clowning a bunch of contestants for whiffing on a sports category. 

See you in the Tournament of Champion, Jeopardy James.